By Arben Theodhosi
Memorie.al / Arben Theodhosi was born in Tirana in 1953. In the early 1970s, after graduating from the Artistic High School, “Jordan Misja” in Tirana, majoring in painting, he began his studies at the Higher Institute of Arts in the capital, but the hit of his father, Koço Theodhosi, at that time Minister of Industry, (who was shot in 1976 together with the Deputy Prime Minister, Abdyl Këllezei), caused Arbeni to be expelled from school and together with his family to be exiled to Kurbnesh of Mirdita district. After that, he stayed for 15 years in a row, as an exile, working in the copper mine and was able to return to Tirana, only at the end of 1990, when the communist regime was collapsing. At this time he was able to finish his higher studies and devote himself to painting. After a period of work at the Institute of Cultural Monuments in Tirana and two years of work in the art galleries of Athens, Arben Theodhosi has been back in the capital for several years now, and is one of the established Albanian painters, who is also known in other countries, where has successfully exhibited his works. His art has very vividly the experience of working underground, i.e. the 15-year suffering he spent in the Kurbnesh mine. In addition to participating in many exhibitions at home and abroad, where he has won several awards, Arben Theodhosi has published the book-catalogue “Reevoking” (2001), “Challenge to Borders” (2007), “In the Footsteps of the Different” (2008), “On the seventh station” (2010), “Shepherd” (2016), “Soliloquium” (2016), as well as “Comments”.
FRAGMENTS FROM THE BOOK-CATALOG “RIEVOKIM”
The sign of the dream
…I was really born into this world and I was 22 years old. The homeland was called glorious, but I had doubted a little under the influence of heretical reverie. I had dismissed the empire, which combined forced freedom with the forced labor of the citizen, as a fictional nightmare. But this nightmare hit me one day with a lot of anger, woke me up from my thoughts and gave me the right to see with open eyes…!
I would no longer confuse the language of dreams with the everyday prose of the world transformed into land. To my surprise, the deeper I stepped into this plot, the more clearly I would hear the voices from above:
NO ONE CAN TAKE THE WORLD…!
You are not free to choose your place of birth, as long as traditional freedoms interfere with suffering from love of country. The first to set foot for millennia, they stopped on the land they named their homeland and continue to dream for millennia. You shot a bit lazy in this race, but NO ONE CAN TAKE THE WORLD. The world of freedom begins with the race of dreams, where the piece of land is honored for what it offers.
The corners of the capital were talking about a period of hell. The hall of this hell was concentrated in the “Forbidden Quarter” where it continued to smile. The cobras smiled at each other and glided gracefully. In order to breathe, he had to go out to the suburbs as often as possible, where, at least, he smiled less often…!
Meanwhile, the “Lubonja Case” was making progress. The support of Western culture, which with the dimensions of 1973 had taken the form of a serious contravention, was already fulfilling the image of “crime”. In front of the “King” or the “soldier” (a log dragged from the mountain to the field), chess in the “Forbidden Quarter” seemed a cruelly fatal game for every wrong move, while the streets around the villas made ghost squares…!
During the spring months, in the smiles of that arena I recognized the sweetness offered to the victim…! While in the first days of summer, I would be expelled from the capital for 15 years…!
I first encountered them in 1976, when a bunch of plainclothes policemen broke into my house to make a mess. It was within the norm: the father would be shot and buried without an address. The council would order sequestration and confiscation of assets. Spoons, forks, pants…!
My paintings were saved because the boss judged them: “you’re too lazy to make monkeys”, and let them go. “From now on, you will work deep underground, where 20 tons are extracted in 8 hours and silicosis is normally obtained”, the brigadier told me the next day.
Deep underground, the rocks offer a clear view of violent creatures. The mimicry of rock grooves easily multiplies those human features that the pantheon of marble statues never did…! Marble is proud; it is a dictator that breaks. Marble statues break, while living grooves, through the break, can survive.
Cape John rose like a pyramid above the workers’ flats. In the face of the rock, they said that there was a hole where the honey of the mountain bees flowed like a river. No one had been able to climb; it was high and steep. What is forbidden is forbidden…! On the other hand, this is what the simple philosophy of the underground preached:
Everyone works in a factory or something. N’dash me hor buk, there is no peaceful way. Copper breaks the blockade. Take a big pendant and put it on that stone, you will dig it…! That’s why you said it! I’m going to die, I’m going to die, and the wagons are hitting each other”!
Then he continued with all sorts of questions:
Have you seen Enver before? And your parents, what the hell do you want more…?! Yes, Beqiri, did you have a cow?
Aberration of glory
In our lands, for centuries the events remained defector resonance expressed with sparing historical expenses. Oriental Communism cultivated on this basis 50 years of pathetic conventions, while popular egalitarian morality clung to this madness in its cheering form. Live and drum was cultivated, so much so that the citizen’s ears are still ringing from the “brainwashing” rhythms.
The sadistic perversion was not limited to the psychology of the individual, who, in fact, under the powerful facade, hid the essence of his weakness. The true sadistic perversion managed to make a career with the state, within the state, and a state with a remarkable anamnesis for chronic weakness, could not fail to stand out for the syndrome of a dictatorship, like the one we experienced.
We returned to the capital to regain the comfort of our birthplace and to make sure that the exile was over once and for all. It was the year 1990. The dictatorial regime was overthrown and in the capital together with us, the Jabanjis flooded, so many Jabanjis that they had not seen since the end of the war…!
In the 1940s, our fathers flocked to the capital as refugees. Our grandparents from Korça, Shkodra or Elbasanli, had sent their sons to the West to study, graduate and then return to their homeland, where they would manage the property inherited from the family. But the grandparents did not predict the story well.
Our fathers, after they returned home as graduates, chose to fight the occupier, won and did not take the fate of the family property into their hands. They accepted the dictates of an Eastern state, set to work to create the goods of collective property and to help their convictions, they finally settled in the capital. This is how the events unfolded, so that we were born in Tirana…!
Our fathers dedicated themselves to work for 30 years and were sentenced to death, because they dared to take care of the collective property honestly. We hope that our homeland will ever be remembered for the remains of our tortured fathers. Isn’t it brave to accept the comfort of the homeland, without first burying the bones of the fathers?
It is the year 2003. We are waiting for the most necessary comfort that the hometown has to offer to a capital city. Hopefully one day, maybe, our psychological exile will end once and for all…! Memorie.al